After the injury to Malcolm Marx, South Africa’s national rugby team faced a significant setback in their preparations for the upcoming Rugby World Cup. However, the team management quickly moved to find a replacement and has now confirmed Handre Pollard as the replacement hooker.
The decision was announced by SA Rugby after their emphatic 76-0 win over Romania in Bordeaux on Sunday. The victory showcased the team’s strength and depth, but the focus quickly shifted to filling the void left by Marx’s injury.
Pollard, who currently plays for English club Leicester, demonstrated his full recovery from a calf injury by participating in the match against Sale Sharks on Friday. This performance convinced the coaching staff that he is ready to join the national team in Paris on Monday.
Although Pollard was not initially included in the 33-man squad, his previous experience with the Springboks made him a logical choice for the replacement role. He had been part of the team during their victorious 2019 World Cup campaign and has been in the national team’s system for several years.
When asked about the decision, coach Jacques Nienaber explained, “We are confident with the cover we have at hooker with Bongi Mbonambi and Deon Fourie, and Marco van Staden has been slotting in the position since our alignment camps in February, so we opted to call up Handre.”
Nienaber further expressed his satisfaction with Pollard’s recovery and recent game time, stating, “He’s been working hard to return to full fitness, and we are pleased that he now has some game time under his belt for his club, and this will allow him to slot back into the team.
“We’ll work closely with him in the next week to get him back up to speed and back into the full swing of things, and we have no doubt he’ll step up to the challenge. He’s been here before, so he knows the physical and mental demands of the World Cup.”
The Springboks, now complete with Pollard as their replacement hooker, will make their way from Bordeaux to Paris on Monday to begin their preparations for the crucial round-three clash against Ireland in the Rugby World Cup.